SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Independent School District is helping fight summer doldrums by opening up the weight room for not just athletes, but also middle school students.
The Athletic Conditioning & Enrichment, or ACE, is a pilot program that was introduced by the SAISD Athletics Department as a way to keep students active and introduce new healthy habits during the summer.
Courtney Davis, the district’s assistant athletic director, said she came up with ACE after each assistant director within the department was asked to create a new program that was highly needed in the SAISD community.
Davis brought in the summer fitness program for coaches to teach middle school students two hours a day about muscle strength, stretching techniques to prevent injuries and replenishing their bodies by way of diet and nutrition.
In collaboration with the district’s summer meals program, students receive two meals a day before and after their workout.
At Whittier Middle School -- one of the 12 participating SAISD middle schools -- the summer fitness program not only allows the coaches to introduce healthy practices four days a week, but also lecture students about injury prevention for injuries they see frequently during the school year.
“It can be several goals but I think the main goal is to establish a way for students to be able to be introduced to exercise, athletics and nutrition in doing it the right way,” Paris Tyrus, P.E. teacher and coach at Whittier MS, said. “Introducing the students in these types of workouts to their bodies early on will help to make sure they do all of the right things in healthy practices.”
For Lexani Padilla, an eight-grade student at Whittier, arriving at 8:30 a.m. for a summer workout at her school helps her stay active. She admitted if it were not for her friends and the coaches, she would still be in bed around the same time she’s done with her workout.
“It’s good, it keeps me going in a good way (in being) energized and not lazy,” Padilla said. “(My parents) think it’s good and that it keeps me out of the house.”
Coach Tyrus, an 11-year Air Force veteran, confesses he was excited when he learned about the pilot program and believes the program has already made a huge impact on the students’ lives.
“I was ready to go to work! I love to teach students about their bodies and about athletics,” Tyrus said. “I was excited to make sure the things that we needed to help the students do, we had the avenue (in the program) of doing it.”
The program is free at participating SAISD middle schools for every incoming seventh- and eighth-grade student who has cleared their physical.
In its first year, approximately 150 students across the 12 SAISD middle schools participated in the summer ACE program.
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